Let’s not mince words. Piriformis syndrome is a pain in the butt. Literally.
This rare but serious issue occurs when your sciatic nerve is pinched by the piriformis muscle (located in the far back of the hip) because the muscle has tightened or is spastic. This is frequently a result of overuse and/or an abnormality in the sciatic nerve itself in relation to the muscle.
The Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome
We have already identified one of the first and clearest symptoms of piriformis syndrome: a deep pain in your buttock. But there are a variety of other symptoms as well. They include:
- Spasms, numbness, and/or cramping in the buttock (in addition to the underlying pain)
- Numbness in the leg and/or foot
- A feeling of pins and needles in the leg
- Discomfort sitting on the side where the problem is and/or significant pain after long periods of sitting
- An increase in pain after doing squats, running, or climbing stairs
- Difficulty sleeping
Diagnosing Piriformis Syndrome
Piriformis syndrome can be difficult to diagnose for a number of reasons. For example, there is not a standard test that can reliably lead to the diagnosis. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that other conditions related to the spine can cause similar symptoms—and these conditions are significantly more common than piriformis syndrome.
That is why it is absolutely essential that you see a doctor with experience and expertise in the identification and treatment of piriformis syndrome.
Treating Piriformis Syndrome
If you start to notice the kinds of symptoms we have noted above, you want to see a doctor right away. The primary treatments for piriformis syndrome are rest and physical therapy. In therapy, a number of treatment options might be employed ranging from targeted stretching to soft-tissue massage to electrical stimulation and more.
Other treatment options may include a prescription for steroids or muscle relaxers. Your doctor might also order an injection directly into the piriformis muscle in an effort to relieve pain and other symptoms.
In some cases, however, the best option is surgery. Piriformis nerve release surgery is exactly what it sounds like: the surgeon releases the sciatic nerve from the piriformis muscle so that it is no longer being crushed or pinched.
During the recovery period, it is not uncommon for the tingling sensations or numbness to continue for quite a long time. That’s because the nerve needs time to heal after it has been released, so lingering symptoms are to be expected.
Working with a physical therapist during the recovery stage is a good idea so that your hips muscles can regain their strength and your body is properly aligned through the hip and pelvic areas.
Because piriformis syndrome is related to overuse, you will want to take great care as you return to your regular activities. It is important to understand that it may be necessary to moderate your previous levels of exercise or athletic endeavor so that the issue does not recur.
When it Comes to Piriformis Syndrome, Expertise Is Essential
We have noted some of the reasons why it can be difficult to diagnose piriformis syndrome. Dr. Eric H. Williams has the expertise and experience necessary to arrive at the correct diagnosis and to design the best treatment plan for you. Whether your condition can be improved via rest, therapy, medicine, or surgery, Dr. Williams will give you his best advice for getting you on the road to recovery.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of piriformis syndrome, don’t wait to see if things get worse. The sooner the problem is addressed, the more likely it is that surgery will not be necessary. And that means you can get back to enjoying your regular activities sooner—and without ongoing pain.
Contact Our Nerve Pain Specialist Today
There is nothing to be gained from living with the pain of piriformis syndrome. Contact our clinic today to make an appointment so that we can help you find relief.